After two relatively simple series that saw them sail through the quarters and the semis, EV Zug are now doing it tough. Thursday night saw a third consecutive loss to SC Berne, this one 3-1, and the boys in blue are now 3-1 down in their best-of-seven series and needing to win three of their own in a row if they are to be champions this year for just the second time in their history.
Coach Dan Tangnes tried to shake up his lines with Miro Zyrd being moved to the top defensive pairing and Livio Stalder coming in for the injured Johann Morant, while Brian Flynn – out of sorts in this series thus far – came back for David McIntyre among the foreign import contingent.
SC Berne came out of the gate all guns blazing, as they did all season away from home where they curiously seemed more effective than in front of their home fans. Zug hit their stride after around 10 minutes and got a power play towards the end of the first period but Dario Simion only managed to ring the bell, rattling a shot off the post.
EVZ then took two minors two open the second period, one after the other – Thomas Thiry for tripping followed by Carl Klingberg for tripping – and at the end of these gruelling four minutes, Berne finally opened the scoring, with Zug goalie Tobias Stephan unsighted due to an opponent being (legitimately) parked in front of him.
It’s the hope that kills you, however. Former Zug bad boy Thomas Rüfenacht took a (rather harsh) penalty on the half-hour mark and EVZ got themselves back level on the power play – or so they thought. Garrett Roe’s shot found the top corner, but Everberg was adjudged to have been preventing Berne (and future Zug) goalie Leo Genoni from getting to it by standing in the crease.
That unfortunately was as good as it got for the boys in blue. Thiry gave the puck away just before the second siren and Gaetan Haas was on hand to score his and Berne’s second of the night. Lino Martschini (who else?) gave them hope with 15 minutes to go in the final stanza after a beautiful feed from Roe on the power play, and Zug then threw everything forward but to no avail. Tangnes took his time-out with two and a quarter minutes to go and brought Stephan off the ice for another attacker, but after a Reto Suri shot was blocked, Mark Arcobello broke the majority of the 7,200 fans’ hearts with the empty netter to make the final score – and the series standings – 3-1 to Berne.
It was a tough defeat to swallow, but swallow it they must. Saturday night EV Zug travel to Berne. If they win, the season goes on. If they lose, they will have to be content with the runners-up medals for the second time in three seasons.
(Photo: KEYSTONE/Ennio Leanza)